On 1 July, the Cabinet adopted a decree aimed at stepping up the fight against VAT fraud in e-commerce. This decree is the implementation of EU directive 2020/284, which aims to strengthen the measures to prevent and combat tax evasion in the context of online transactions.
In this article, we will examine the main changes introduced by the directive and its impact on businesses and consumers.
The challenges of VAT fraud in e-commerce
With the exponential growth of e-commerce, VAT fraud has become a major concern for European governments. The cross-border nature of online transactions and the ease with which sellers can evade tax controls have created a favorable environment for fraudulent activity.
Overseas retailers often evade VAT by not collecting it or by using sophisticated mechanisms to hide the amount. This leads to unfair competition from local vendors and significant damage to public coffers.
The news of the EU directive 2020/284
The EU introduces new obligations to fight VAT fraud in e-commerce, focusing on the sharing of data relating to cross-border payments by credit or debit card.
The Council of Ministers gave the preliminary green light, on 17 July 2023, to the legislative decree which implements EU directive 2020/284.
Payment service providers will be particularly affected by the new measures. As stated in the Government's press release of 17 July, the main points are two and aim at blocking fraudulent VAT behavior in the sale of products and services to EU consumers, by monitoring payments. The two points are:
- Payment service providers (PSPs) must now keep data relating to the beneficiaries of payments made in transactions between EU countries or between EU countries and third countries (cross-border purchases).
- Furthermore, PSPs are required to transmit the available information to the Revenue Agency as part of their commitment.
Impact on companies and consumers
The National Tax Administration will be responsible for sharing data in the Central electronic system of payment information (CESOP), a central electronic payment information system. This will create the conditions for carrying out the necessary data matching at EU level to combat VAT fraud in cross-border purchases. CESOP will come into operation on 1 January 2024.
The legislative decree approved in the preliminary phase on 17 July 2023 gives a key role to payment service providers operating in the EU to implement the innovations against VAT fraud in e-commerce. Those who receive more than 25 cross-border payments per quarter will be monitored, as the number of transactions is a useful indicator for identifying whether they are conducting economic activity online.
All relevant data relating to credit or debit card payments collected by the various financial administrations of EU countries will be entered into a single container to be archived, aggregated and cross-checked.
In the event of non-compliance with the obligations, the Government press release specifies that the provisions of Legislative Decree no. 471 of 1997, relating to the sanctions for omitted or irregular conservation of fiscal documentation and for omitted or irregular transmission of the documentation requested by the financial administration.
The EU directive 2020/284 represents an important step forward in the fight against VAT fraud in e-commerce. These measures will benefit companies, simplifying tax procedures, and will help ensure greater fairness in the market. At the same time, consumers may experience changes in the costs of shopping online, but the aim is to ensure a fairer and more sustainable trading environment in the EU.
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